Explaining Criminal Careers presents a simple quantitative theory of crime, conviction and reconviction, the assumptions of the theory are derived directly from a detailed analysis of cohort samples drawn from the “UK Home Office” Offenders Index (OI). Mathematical models based on the theory, together with population trends, are used to make: exact quantitative predictions of features of criminal careers; aggregate crime levels; the prison population; and to explain the age-crime curve, alternative explanations are shown not to be supported by the data. Previous research is reviewed, clearly identifying the foundations of the current work. Using graphical techniques to identify mathematical regularities in the data, recidivism (risk) and frequency (rate) of conviction are analysed and modelled. These models are brought together to identify three categories of offender: high-risk / high-rate, high-risk / low-rate and low-risk / low-rate. The theory is shown to rest on just 6 basic assumptions. Within this theoretical framework the seriousness of offending, specialisation or versatility in offence types and the psychological characteristics of offenders are all explored suggesting that the most serious offenders are a random sample from the risk/rate categories but that those with custody later in their careers are predominantly high-risk/high-rate. In general offenders are shown to be versatile rather than specialist and can be categorised using psychological profiles. The policy implications are drawn out highlighting the importance of conviction in desistance from crime and the absence of any additional deterrence effect of imprisonment. The use of the theory in evaluation of interventions is demonstrated.

- Cover
- Contents
- 1. Criminal Career Research, Mathematical Models, and Testing Quantitative Predictions from Theories
- Background
- Blumstein and Cohen (1979)
- The National Academy Panel
- Explaining the Growth in Recidivism Probabilities
- Explaining the Individual Offending Frequency
- Objections to Criminal Career Research
- Criminal Career Research in the Last 20 Years
- Aims of this Book
- Methodological Notes

- 2. An Analysis of the Offenders Index
- Sources of Data
- Recidivism
- Reconviction Rate
- Reconciling the Risk and Rate Categories
- Gender
- Is Criminality Constant over the Cohorts?

- 3. The Theory and a Simple Model
- Orientation
- Introduction
- The Assumptions of our Theory
- Explaining the Age–Crime Curve
- The Rise in Crime from 10 to 17 Years of Age
- Modelling the Age–Crime Curve
- The 100,000 Active Prolific Offenders
- Corollaries and Comments
- Conclusion

- 4. Criminal Careers of Serious, Less Serious, and Trivial Offenders
- Orientation
- Introduction
- Offenders with Custody at First Court Appearance
- Custody Rates
- Serious Offenders
- Less Serious Offenders
- Serious Offences
- Simplified Modelling of Convictions for Serious Offences
- Simplified Modelling of all Convictions
- Versatility or Specialization in Offending
- Trivial Offenders
- Conclusion

- 5. Is Age the Primary Influence on Offending?
- Orientation
- Introduction
- Possible Types of Age Dependence
- Testing the Theories
- Conclusion

- 6. Characteristics of Individuals
- Orientation
- Introduction
- The Rationale and Development of OASys
- Analysis of the Pilot OASys Data
- The Distribution of Section 11 Scores
- Is there Structure in the Section 11 Information in OASys?
- Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Section 11 Questions
- Conclusions from the OASys Pilot Data Analysis
- Analysis of Operational OASys Data
- Analysis of April 2004 PNC Conviction Data
- Conclusions

- 7. Applications for Managing the Criminal Justice System
- Orientation
- Introduction
- The Flow Model
- Predicting the Prison Population
- The DNA Database
- Conclusion

- 8. Criminal Policy Implications
- Orientation
- Introduction
- Overview of the Theory
- The Categories
- Areas where Policy could Influence Crime
- Childhood Early Interventions
- Early Career Interventions
- Increasing the Efficiency of Conviction
- Offender Treatment Programmes
- Prolific and other Priority Offenders
- Implications and Uses of the Theory
- Frequently Asked Questions

- 9. Summary and Conclusions
- Summary
- The Origin of the Offender Categories
- Criminality
- Recidivism
- Conviction Rate λ
- The Effects of Formal Warnings and Cautions
- The Criminal Career Debate
- Conclusions

- Appendix: Mathematical Notes
- Introduction
- Constant Probability Systems
- Allocation of Offenders to the Risk/Rate Categories
- An Alternative Modelling Approach
- Incapacitation
- Steady State Solutions
- Estimating the Active Offender Population Size
- Maximum Likelihood Estimation of the Recidivism Parameters

- Bibliography
- Index
- A
- B
- C
- D
- F
- G
- I
- L
- M
- N
- O
- P
- R
- S
- T
- V

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